by: Julia Fisher
I'm sure you'll agree with me that we tend to block out all the bad stuff, and MTB memories are no different. If you think about your favourite day on the bike, you might recall endless downhills, special moments with friends, reignited love for your country, views, SINGLE TRACK! For us, Freedom Challenge last year, was all these things for 20 days, back to back! How lucky were we! And boy did we love it. I seem to not recall frozen fingers, sore knees, broken spirits, tears, rain, and headwinds as easily somehow... And maybe that's why Chris and I are finding ourselves in the last few days before the start line of this great journey once again.
Although when doing the Freedom Challenge you are riding your bike ALL day, and for some, ALL night, it is not only about the ride. If your bike and body are working, you will make it. The real essence is a bit more complex then the revolutions of your pedals.
You share a trail with women who carrying water on their heads and children who play with wire cars. You cycle past in 100 layers, while they are barefoot. Then muddy and perhaps a little hangry (Hungry + angry = hangry) you arrive at a 'strangers' door. Which is flung open and warm air gushes out. You find yourself sitting around their dinning room table, sharing their family meal and sleeping in their spare room. Bright and early the following morning you're on the road again, expectant for the day's highs and lows that will inevitably be cast your way. But you know that the day will once again be interspersed with new people, views and temperatures. The journey becomes about the people, the beauty, the privilege.
Hour after hour, day after day, a space is created in your head / your heart / your soul. In this space, perhaps a parallel journey has begun. One of reflection, reassessment, appreciation, promise. The true magic perhaps, is how this 'inwardness' created in this instance by hours on the bike, transforms who you are and how you interact with others, it transforms how you live your life. For me, that is the actual challenge, and for me, it just so happens to be along side my man and dressed in 89 maps of South African soil.
What ever your challenge is, go for it! Commit! Get to your 'start line'. Allow yourself the opportunity to reconnect.